Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 10-30-09

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What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans 

1. Veterans Want Iraqi Flag Removed From Parkersburg Vet Center. 
2. Georgia Veteran Tries To Inform VA That He Is Still Alive. 
3. Stand Down Against Homelessness Events Held. 
4. Fort Worth VA Clinic Lease To Cost $125.2 Million. 
5. VA Scrutinized Over Awarding Of Contract To ACS Federal. 
6. Unclaimed Cremains Of Three New Jersey Veterans Laid To Rest. 
7. "Battle Of The Lost Battalion" Gala. 
8. Lockey Named Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery Director. 
9. Soldier On Plans Home For Veterans In Pittsfield, Massachusetts. 
10. New Hampshire Resident Seeks Answer On Veterans License Plate Cost Increase. 

     

1.      Veterans Want Iraqi Flag Removed From Parkersburg Vet Center.  WTAP-TV Parkersburg, West Virginia (10/29, Barrett) reports on its website that a "group of veterans wants an Iraqi flag, hanging in the Parkersburg Vet Center, to come down. Some veterans tell us the flag is inside the Department of Veterans Affairs building because an Iraqi veteran wanted it there but they say looking at it during their counseling sessions is causing them more grief as they try to cope with memories from their experiences in war." Veterans say the flag "was hung on a wall next to the American flag in the meeting room where they have counseling sessions" about a month ago. The flag "is from the era of Saddam Hussein, with the Arabic phrase ‘God is great.’ These twelve men, who are mostly Vietnam war veterans, want it taken down." 

2.      Georgia Veteran Tries To Inform VA That He Is Still Alive.  Georgia’s Moultrie Observer (10/30, Hall) reports, "Tommy Curles wants the world to know he’s alive. Especially the Department of Veterans Affairs, because he says they haven’t gotten the message yet." The Air Force veteran says he "receives a pension from the VA because of a 20 percent hearing loss he suffered during the Vietnam War. He was a crew chief on B-52 bombers and KC-135 air tankers, serving in Laos,Buy Captain Ryan's Boat Cambodia, Thailand and Guam, and the loud jet engines damaged his hearing." When he moved, "the checks were not forwarded to his new address. One or more were returned to the VA, who may have taken that as a sign that he was no longer among the living. The VA sent a letter in March acknowledging his death, he said." 

3.      Stand Down Against Homelessness Events Held.  WCSC-TV Charleston, South Carolina (10/29, Amick) reports on its website, "Thousands of people in the Charleston area are on the streets; many of them are veterans. Thursday the VA hospital and Goodwill hosted the 10th annual Stand Down Against Homelessness."
      Georgia’s
Fort Gordon Signal (10/30, Brackett) reports the annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event took place "on the grounds of the Salvation Army on Oct. 23. About 400 people attend the event each year. People were lined up to register for the event well before the 8 a.m. start. The stand down opened with a brief ceremony featuring Fort Gordon’s color guard and Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver."  

4.      Fort Worth VA Clinic Lease To Cost $125.2 Million.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (10/30, Barbee, 203K) reports, "Federal taxpayers will pony up $125.2 million to lease Fort Worth’s new veterans clinic, though the building and land are projected to cost the private owners $70 million. At first glance, the extra $55 million for the 20-year lease seemed a tad high, so Watchdog checked out the numbers to see whether public money was going to waste. The difference is nearly enough to buy five brand-new elementary schools in the Fort Worth school district – in today’s dollars – or to pay for a year’s worth of charity care at
Cook Children’s Medical Center with $13 million left over." VA officials "say the lease, over the long run, is slightly cheaper than the cost of ownership. They come to that conclusion using what they call the ‘net present value’ of the lease – an inflation adjustment based on discounting the future value of money."  

5.      VA Scrutinized Over Awarding Of Contract To ACS Federal.  In his Nextgov (10/30) blog, Bob Brewin writes, "ACS Federal won the contract that the Veterans Affairs Department announced on Wednesday to pitch in, on a temporary basis, to help the department process GI bill benefit claims. VA told me four bidders responded to the requests for proposals, and ACS Federal was chosen because ‘they submitted the highest quality response and have had successful past performance.’ OK, it’s good that the high-quality outfit will help process GI bill claims rather than have vets starve waiting for their checks, but the whole contract process raises a lot of questions. The RFP was issued on Oct. 21, but the VA press shop did not publicly announce it until Oct. 28. Why the delay in public notification? I’m told that the RFP went to a handful of vendors on some GSA schedule contract, but folks who are really good at keeping track of contracts told me they could not find the solicitation anywhere after their diligent searches. Why not a more full-and-open competition? Did the VA consider using a veterans owned business for the job? And if not, why not? This contract process was about as transparent as a battleship."  





6.      Unclaimed Cremains Of Three New Jersey Veterans Laid To Rest.  New Jersey’s Sayreville Suburban (10/30, Booton) reports, "The American flag was lowered to half-staff and taps sounded from two bugles last week as past and present armed services personnel and hundreds of Sayreville residents saluted the cremated remains of three veterans. The military service, held Oct. 21 outside Borough Hall and spearheaded by the New Jersey Mission of Honor for the Cremains of American Veterans, honored three local servicemen whose remains had been unclaimed." World War II veterans Stephen Hedman and Frances Wheelan, and Vietnam veteran Michael Sullivan, "were given full military honors in Sayreville and brought to their final resting place at the Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Arnytown." 

7.      "Battle Of The Lost Battalion" Gala.  KING-TV Seattle (10/29, Matsukawa) reports on its website that veteran Frank Nishimura "is heading to Houston for a reunion with soldiers he helped rescue. The ‘Battle of the Lost Battalion’ 65 years ago in France’s Vosges mountains was brutal and costly, but Nishimura says his unit was ordered to save the battalion ‘at all cost.’ The ‘Battle of the Lost Battalion’ was the bloodiest for the 442nd, the all Japanese-American regimental combat team. Approximately 3,000 members of the 442nd were ordered to rescue 275 members of the 141st Infantry Division (36th Texas Division) who were surrounded by Germans. After three days of close fighting, the 442nd had suffered 800 casualties and 200 dead or missing — to save 210 Texans." The sacrifice "made even more significant because many of the 442nd
soldiers volunteered for duty from American concentration camps, where the U.S. government wrongfully imprisoned their families. ‘I thought, "There’s something wrong here,"’ said Nishimura. ‘There’s something we have to prove and I’m going to do my share.’ Nishimura was wounded in the shoulder during the battle and lost most of his hearing. But he’s looking forward to the reunion with the Texas battalion. ‘I lost several buddies in that battle. I want to see the results of our effort.’ The ‘Homecoming for Heroes’ Gala will be held Sunday November 1 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Houston. Special invited guests include Medal of Honor winner Senator Daniel K. Inouye."  

8.      Lockey Named Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery Director.  Mississippi’s Meridian Star (10/30, 14K) reports the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board "has appointed Timothy Lockey of Collinsville as Cemetery Director for the Veterans Memorial Cemetery being constructed near Newton." Lockey will replace Randy Reeves, who has been appointed as Deputy Director of the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board. Lockey "recently retired from the U.S. Navy following a 26 year career. He served in various assignments around the world and is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as Senior Enlisted at Branch Medical Clinic, Meridian and most recently as Medical Department Leading Chief Petty Officer on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt."
     
WTOK-TV Meridian (10/29) reports on its website that the "official ground breaking for the construction of the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery will be held Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. on the cemetery site located on U.S. Highway 80 between Newton and Hickory." 

9.      Soldier On Plans Home For Veterans In Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  The Berkshire Eagle (10/30, Berry) of Massachusetts reports, "Thursday was a grand day for veteran Eli Simmons, a musician and construction worker from Chicago who will soon call Pittsfield home. As the sun shone down, Simmons spoke about a bright future. Not only does Simmons plan to live in a new veterans’ housing facility being built on West Housatonic Street, but he hopes to help construct the state-of-the-art complex, dubbed the Berkshire Veterans Village." Soldier On "is the organization behind the $6.6 million apartment complex currently under construction on the site of the former Optimum Care Nursing Home on West Housatonic Street."  

10.    New Hampshire Resident Seeks Answer On Veterans License Plate Cost Increase.  In a letter to the editor of New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor (10/30, Publishing), resident Henry Osmer writes, "In November 2007, I attended a ceremony at Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. Gov. John Lynch and many elected state and federal officials were present, including presidential candidate John McCain and his mother. Lynch praised and thanked the veterans for their service, including all veterans who had died in service to country. Lynch also said that it was wrong to charge veterans extra for a license
plate showing their veteran status. … I hope in the next few days before Veterans Day the governor will explain the increase from $25 to $40 and what he has done to stop it. I am a retired Army veteran (1958-78), and I will not spend extra for a plate to thank myself for serving my country."

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